It seems like an annual tradition now.
Not only do the Bruins face Toronto six times with two points on the line, but they also have a chance to push the Maple Leafs deeper and deeper into the depths of the conference standings.
And just like last season, this season that could mean a lottery pick coming Boston’s way. Tyler Seguin might not wind up being the best prize acquired in general manager Peter Chiarelli’s trade of Phil Kessel. Tonight the Bruins visit Toronto for the first time this season (7 p.m. puck drop) for the second of those six meetings with the Leafs sitting 28th in the NHL overall standings. Just New Jersey and the New York Islanders are between the Leafs and the basement.
Last season, the Leafs finished 29th and the lottery balls held them in place so Boston could pick second. There’s no telling what might happen come this spring. Heck, the Leafs could even turn things around.
Just in case they don’t, here’s a little primer on three of the potential top-three picks for the draft next June in Minnesota:
Sean Couturier, C, Drummondville (QMJHL)
A playmaker with size, Couturier stands 6-foot-4, 191 pounds and currently ranks fifth in the Q in scoring with 43 points (15 goals). According to ESPN, his stock might’ve dropped a bit during an All-Star game between the Q and some under-20 Russian players last month. But he was still building up strength after a summer bout with mononucleosis.
Here’s a look at him:
Adam Larsson, D, Skelleftea (Sweden)
Imagine the Bruins using that Leafs pick to take a defenseman who stands 6-2, 209 pounds. You probably don’t want to wake up from that dream. The Hockey News quoted one scout as saying about Larsson “Dominant game; never gets rattled. The physical tools are above and beyond a 17-year-old.” Another scout told ESPN last summer Larsson could be in the NHL now. While it sounds like his offensive game still needs some polish, his defensive abilities and physicality are up to par for someone at the stage of Larsson’s development.
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, C, Red Deer (WHL)
A bit on the diminutive side compared to Couturier at 6-foot, 164 pounds, but he is still a dynamic offensive talent. A slow November caused him to drop currently to 10th in the WHL in scoring with 38 points (8 goals). One thing that might be holding the playmaker back is a lack of talent on his wings. He’ll have a chance to show what he can do with a little firepower on his side at the Canadian under-20 camp prior to the World Junior Championship. And then maybe he’ll get to raise his stock at the WJC in Buffalo.